"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eliot Spitzer, Human Being, or: Eliot Spitzer, Human Being?

Since Spitzer's a Democrat, and quite a self-righteous one, I'm trying not to enjoy this all too much. A GOP senator named Vitter got named in a DC hooker ring, and he was given a pass, as it was indeed a private matter between him and his wife.

Proper, in my view.

But Spitzer was a prosecutor. My rules for hypocrisy are pretty liberal---Spitzer said he failed to live up to his own standards, and that's fair---among human beings who actually have standards, failure is inevitable.

But to prosecute---persecute---others for the same thing you do yourself, and he apparently did, is another matter entirely, and fits my definition of hypocrisy. Spitzer, according to the link above, prosecuted prostitution.

Now, if it turns out he gave hookers a break---and because there is no moral difference here between buyer and seller---perhaps he's just the victim of bad luck.

Me, I just wonder how he could afford Emperor's Club courtesans on a civil servant's salary. Up to five grand a pop? At least we can hope he selected from the Three Diamond menu instead of the Seven, as any fiscally responsible politician would.

[Nice to see Messrs. Simpson and Evanston check in. This blog has always been about dialogue and not speechifying. There will be much to dialogue about in the coming months about the future and fate of this here republic...]

6 comments:

Tony said...

The sex isn't going to be what gets Spitzer in trouble, it'll be the Mann Act (transporting a woman across state lines for the purpose of prostitution) and the financial skulduggery he used to cover his tracks.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thanks for your comment, Tony. But the Mann Act [used against Jack Johnson and documented in "The Great White Hope"] and even the financial skulduggery are technical violations of the law, not its spirit.

We're after larger principles here.

But thanks for stopping by anyway, although I make it this isn't the only blog you posted this astute observation on.

Will the law require its pound of flesh from Spitzer, as he extracted it from others?

An interesting, but ultimately academic question.

David S. Bloch said...

2 responses to Tom:

1. The Mann Act isn't a "technical violation." The law says you can't transport people across State lines for purposes of prostitution. That's actually a fairly important Federal policy, because prostitution IS LEGAL in at least one State (Nevada). To me, the Mann Act therefore illustrates a fairly important Federalist principle: each State is free to legislate within its borders, but ought not be able to export its social policies to surrounding States. If you want to cross State lines to pay for a prostitute in Reno, fine. But you can't bring the hooker to San Leandro without running afoul of both California and Federal law. And that strikes me as the appropriate result. Indeed, I think a Mann Act-style compromise might be salutary in other areas, e.g., medical marijuana.

2. As to where he got the money on a public servant's salary, Spitzer is the heir to a large New York real estate fortune. He has plenty of cash.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ah, thank you, David. #2 explains why he apparently ordered from the high end of the menu.

Your #1 is well-observed. Do you think [now former] Gov. Spitzer should be nailed on this to preserve the principle of federalism?

A prudence question, but hey, I hate Spitzer's guts. If you say yes, I'm totally cool with that. Lord knows he crucified enough people himself for the sake of "principle."

David S. Bloch said...

I have no problem whatsoever seeing Spitzer nailed for a Mann Act violation. Indeed, I think he almost has to be. It's clear he paid Ms. Dupree's way from NYC to DC as part of a cash-for-sex transaction. Granted, there's np allegation that she crossed State lines against her will, but otherwise this is on all fours with the original cases that spawned the Mann Act. If not in this instance, when?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, David, there's only one lawyer around here and I ain't him, but "when" to me would be [and you made me think of this when you brought up medical marijuana] an x that's legal in one state crosses state lines to one where it isn't.

I'm not so big on the "immoral purposes" thrust of the Mann Act and see it as vague and archaic, as what could be considered legally "immoral" these days after Lawrence v. Texas escapes me.

However, I would also admit that although the commerce clause is often a judicial sophistry and overreach, there was definitely some interstate commerce going on here.

Your call.